On what was by far the most eventful day at the Championships so far, the 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro, nicknamed the Tower of Tandil, playing his first match on center court three years after loosing a five set semi-final to Novak Djokovic, confirmed his return to the big stage as he upset the fourth seeded Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka in four set, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-3.
The 6 ft 6 inch giant from Argentina was playing in his first grand slam since the 2014 Australian Open due to a wrist injury which required three surgeries on the left. The 27 year old who entered the tournament with a protected ranking, now goes on to face the 32nd seeded Frenchman Lucas Pouille in the round of 32. Pouille defeated the left handed Donald Young 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
Meanwhile Wawrinka’s Swiss compatriot Roger Federer, the seven time champion, is the only player to enter the round of 16 as he beat a second consecutive Englishman in consecutive rounds under the roof on Center court. Federer raced to a 4-0 lead in the first two sets, and then reeled off five consecutive games from 0-1 in the third set to beat Daniel Evans 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.
The win takes Federer to 305 Grandslam wins – needing one more win to equal Martina Navratilova’s record of 306 wins at the four grand slams, and improved to 82-10 at Wimbledon. It is the 14th time in his career he will feature in week two at All England Lawn tennis club.
In second round action there were no problems for the tenth seeded Tomas Berdych as he beat the German Benjamin Becker 6-4, 6-1, 6-2; while the 12th seeded Jo Wilfred Tsonga put out the Argentine Juan Monaco 6-1, 6-4, 6-3. There is still one match to be completed in the second round, Alexander Zverev, the 24th seeded
The German teenager is tied 2 sets and leads 2-1 in the fifth against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia. With the tournament severely behind schedule as three ladies singles second round matches are still to be decided, the organisers have decided to play on the middle Sunday, traditionally a day of rest.
The American John Isner won all three tie-breaks against Kyrgios’ little known compatriot Matthew Barton 7-6(8), 7-6(3), 7-6(8). The 22nd seeded Feliciano Lopez of Spain, came from two sets down to beat the Italian Fabio Fognini 3-6, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. Other players to advance to the third round include the Frenchman Richard Gasquet, the Australian Bernard Tomic and Joao Sousa of Portugal, matches completed late on Thursday.
Three other second round matches which were interrupted by rain on Thursday were finally completed on Friday. In a match involving Rafael Nadal’s Wimbledon conquerors, Nick Kyrgios, the 15th seeded Australian, who beat the Spaniard in 2014, came out on top against the German Dustin Brown, the man who stopped Nadal in the second round in 2015. The Canberra native won 6-7(3), 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
There was drama on court no. 1, as the three time champion Novak Djokovic dropped the first two sets to the 28th seeded American Sam Querrey before rain brought an end to play on outside courts with Querrey leading 7-6(6), 6-1. The American who trails 1-8 in career meetings against the top ranked Serb, squandered two set points at 6-4 in the first set tie-break before winning it 8-6 on his third set point.
The world No.1 started the second set on a strong note and create a break point on Querrey’s serve. Querrey staved it off with some strong serving and heavy ground game. Querrey, on his part, took full toll of the opportunities he had on the Serbian’s serve and a few moments of rare loss of concentration from the defending Champion gave the second set 6-1 to Querrey. Djokovic will now need to repeat his heroics of last year, when he came from two sets down to beat the South African Kevin Anderson in the round of 16, to continue his unbeaten streak at the majors.
Following matches to be played or completed on Saturday in the round of 32, with my pick mentioned first:-
Sam Querrey (28) v. Novak Djokovic (1), Querrey leads 7-6(6),6-1
Andy Murray (2) v. John Millman
Milos Raonic (6) v. Jack Sock (27)
Nick Kyrgios (15) v. Feliciano Lopez (22)
John Isner (18) v. Jo Wilfred Tsonga (12)
Kei Nishikori (5) v. Andrey Kuznetsov
David Goffin (11) v. Denis Istomin
Marin Cilic (9) v. Lukas Lacko; Cilic leads 6-3,6-3,0-1
Juan Martin Del Potro v. Lucas Pouille (32)
Steve Johnson v. Grigor Dmitrov, Johnson leads 4-3
Richard Gasquet (7) v. Albert Ramos Vinolas
Nicolas Mahut v. Pierre Hughes Herbert 7-6(5),6-4,1-2
Bernard Tomic (19) v. Roberto Bautista Agut (14)
While the 2010 finalist Tomas Berdych awaits the winner of Zverev and Youzhny, the third round match in the same bracket between Jiri Vesley who upset the eighth seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria and the 31st seed Joao Sousa has been held back.
The Ladies Singles too was not short of excitement as the defending champion Serena Williams rallied from a set down to beat her fellow American Christina McHale in an enthralling match. Serena won the contest 6-7(9), 6-2,6-4.
Her elder sibling Venus Williams had to go through three rain delays, including one at match point against the 19 year old Russian Daria Kasatkina before winning 7-5, 4-6, 10-8. The eighth seeded, 36 year Venus, a five time winner in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008 led 7-6 in the 3rd set and 30-40 on Kasatkina’s serve but the brave Russian won three points on resumption.
Williams who has been critical of the scheduling kept her calm to win 10-8 in the third set and is joined in the fourth round by the 12th seeded Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro who beat Marina Erakovic of New Zealand 6-2, 6-2. There are still three matches to be completed in the second round. Eleventh seeded Swiss Timea Bacsinszky is tied a set apiece to the Romanian Monica Niculescu, the 18th seeded American Sloane Stephens is all tied up at 3-3 in the third set to Mandy Minella of Luxembourg, while the 2011 and 2014 champion Petra Kvitova, seeded 10th dropped the first set to the Russian Ekaterina Makarova.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]